On the eve of the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, which sparked many days and nights of rioting, protest and soul searching in Ferguson, Missouri and across America, Lynden Steele, the lead editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s photographic team, spoke about some changes in his life and his newsroom.
One year later, “all hands are still on deck, so to speak, and our plan is to be community-minded, by that I mean we’ll be covering the march and activities from Canfield Green Apartments to Greater St. Mark Church.”
In the last year, Steele said, the Post-Dispatch “has moved its coverage from the streets to the courts, focusing on the relationship between municipal courts and citizens.” The paper is doing more meaningful investigative work on the need for court reform and the need for change, he said.
Steele, who left his family on a Michigan vacation to get back to the office for this weekend, spoke about staff’s dedication to this coverage.
“Almost everyone is working this weekend,” said Steele, now assistant managing editor for photography.
One year later, on the professional front, Post-Dispatch photographers won the Pulitzer Prize for news photography coverage, and according to Steele, “there have been no personnel changes, although the newsroom did endure a round of lay-offs that did not affect our department.”
The awards and recognition led to, “lots of speaking engagements and traveling and they are all ready to get back to more normal schedules,” which will have to wait until after this weekend.
In the city of Ferguson, there is a new police chief, and a few new elected officials and there has been less strife and unrest of late. One year later in Ferguson, he saw “lots of change in terms of how the newsroom covers the issue of race and the challenges of people of color.”
For Steele, the greatest change overall is in his staff’s confidence and competence. Thinking back, photography departments once followed the lead of writers.
“Now with online opportunities… our best work, most innovative and significant work has been done by the photo staff as originators of ideas and content.”